The Philadelphia Phillies made an expected move as MLB free agency approaches in only six days, declining their part of the $5.5 million option for third baseman, Placido Polanco. Polanco will receive a $1 million buyout from the Phillies.
Management also declined the options on relief pitcher, Jose Contreas and infielder, Ty Wigginton. Both Wigginton and Contreas will receive a $500,000 buyout.
With needs all across the board including a third baseman, center-fielder corner outfielder and bullpen help, the Phillies will certainly have their hands full this off-season. Clubs can start signing players Friday at midnight.
The Phillies pondered possibly having Chase Utley play the hot corner next season, but that is unlikely following not even a trial run late in the season this year. Utility infielder, Freddy Galvis is another option, but he just doesn’t have the bat to become a full year solution, especially for a team looking to capture a World Series title. Kevin Frandsen filled in admirably for the Phillies last year, but lacks the power needed for this roster.
This leaves the burning question. What are the free agent alternatives this off-season? The third base market is bare as can be this year, with only one big name highlighting the group. Kevin Youkilis will likely hit the market if the Chicago White Sox decline his $13 million club option and opt for a $1 million buyout, all but a formality for White Sox brass. He had a less than stellar year last season, hitting .235 on the season, but clubbed 19 home runs. He would bring a right handed bat to the Phillies’ left handed heavy lineup and much needed plate discipline.
Another option would be to platoon Kevin Frandsen with Eric Chavez. Given his age, Chavez would come relatively cheap on a one year deal and could bring some pop to the Phillies’ lineup. He would only play against right handed pitchers, giving time for Frandsen and Galvis to gain experience at the hot corner.
An option down the road is third base prospect, Cody Asche. At only 22 years old, he could fill in at the hot corner in about two years. Asche hit .300 for the Reading Phillies, Philadelphia’s AA affiliate this season and added ten home runs on the year.
Whoever they sign, the Phillies still have some wholes to fill and third base is just a small part of the equation for a successful 2013 season.